Star Trek: Picard Showrunner Explains Why the Show Doesn't Use Log Entries

Star Trek fans may have noticed the lack of familiar voices at the beginning of new episodes of Star Trek: Picard. It has long been a tradition in Star Trek to introduce episodes with an officer's log entry from one of the show's core characters, usually the captain. Sometimes the logs would also be used to fill viewers in on what happened if a period of time elapsed between scenes or just coming back from a commercial break. No such logs are used in Picard. Showrunner Michael Chabon responded to a question about this, revealing that he's not a big fan of voiceover narration.

"Voiceover narration rarely improves a story and often harms or detracts from it," Chabon says. "It's my view that it only really works, only enhances the pleasure fo the viewer, when it is used as a commentary on the action onscreen-ironically, to undercut or call into question either what we are seeing, what we are being told, the veracity of the narrator, or all three. Think Sunset Boulevard, or (at times) Goodfellas. It can be all right, too, as an occasional framing device, as in 'Data's Day.' But as a framing device every episode, it is wearisome."

Chabon previously answered a similar question about the show's lack of stardates, another Star Trek tradition. "Stardates, in my view, and I know this is going to make some people mad, are a uniquely perverse form of uninformative information," Chabon said. "Using a Stardate tells you precisely nothing. Even people who know how to interpret and convert them have to go off and interpret and convert them to have them mean something. Giving an audience the stardate is like if I wanted to know if I needed to put on a sweater or not, and you told me the temperature outside in Kelvin. 'It's 207 out.'"

Stardates have long been a problematic piece part of the Star Trek universe. Different writers and producers have used different methods to come up with stardates. This was especially true on Star Trek: The Original Series, which created stardates to avoid having to give each episode a real date. This active effort to avoid establishing continuity made sense when Star Trek was a single, scrappy television show. Star Trek is now a franchise spanning more than 50 years of continuity. The inconsistent creation of stardates makes it impossible to create consistent conversions.

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More and more, the franchise relies on Gregorian calendar years. Star Trek: Enterprise takes place in the 22nd century from 2151 through 2155. Star Trek: The Original Series and the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery takes place in the 23rd century. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine take place in the 24th century. Star Trek: Picard takes place in the year 2399, on the eve of the dawn of the 25th century. In its third season, Discovery travels forward in time to the year 3187 in the 32nd century.

New episodes of Star Trek: Picard stream Thursdays on CBS All Access.

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